I’m afraid that – once again – coverage of Leicestershire’s latest defeat, this time to Worcestershire by nine wickets, has had to be held over, due to lack of time and, frankly, inclination. Predictions are always tricky things, but, although my horse Yorkshire have stumbled alarmingly in the closing straight of the Championship race, I’d say the figurative money I have on Leicestershire for the wooden spoon is already earning interest in the bank.
But my time at Grace Road on Saturday was not entirely wasted (it never is). I satisfied most of my Christmas card needs with this year’s offering from the Friends of Grace Road shop (a charming snow scene of Grace Road, as always) and whiled away the time as Worcestershire crept largely unimpeded to the 187 they needed to win the match by flicking through some back copies of The Cricketer I’d picked up from the same source.
The Spring Annual of April 1983 particularly held my attention. It was something of a shock to be reminded of quite how conservative the magazine was under the editorship of Christopher Martin-Jenkins. The whole thing is such an instructive time capsule of the period that I intend to save it for some Wintry day to write about in full, but – as a taster – it contains an article entitled “A body blow to Apartheid : Michael Owen-Smith reviews the extraordinary success of the [rebel] West Indian tour“, a full page of poetry submitted by readers, “Geoffrey Beck: an unsung cricketing cleric” by Alan Gibson, a history of Rutland County Cricket Club and a piece by Guy Williatt (“former Captain of Derbyshire and Headmaster of Pocklington School”) arguing for the continuing relevance of independent schools to the health of English cricket.
Different times, but the biggest jolt – given the context in which I saw it – was delivered by coming across this (at the head of a piece in which “John Thicknesse of the New Standard previews the Schweppes County Championship”).
Predictions, as I say, are usually odorous (Leicestershire finished fourth that year) but I have to admire the self-confidence displayed here. Perhaps for next year’s Christmas card Josh Cobb (our current Captain and the son of Russell, the man in the natty sheepskin and cloth cap combo to the right of the picture) could be persuaded to re-enact this scene, substituting “promotion” for “Champions”?